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What is the Best Remedy for Hiccups?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There is no highly effective remedy for hiccups when the problem is brief. People who have hiccups for long periods of time or who experience them frequently are sometimes prescribed medication or even surgery, which can be at least partially effective. Normal hiccups must simply be tolerated, as they usually go away on their own. One benefit of using a remedy for hiccups is that the remedy often takes a person's mind off the problem long enough to make it go away. Even so, most remedies are actually urban legends about curing hiccups and have no basis in medicine.

One commonly prescribed remedy for hiccups is drinking water upside down. A number of legends relating to water and hiccups exist, some including straws or standing on one's head. These techniques may be distracting and time consuming enough to be effective, but they can also be dangerous if someone does not exercise caution.

Breathing into a paper bag is sometimes used as a remedy for hiccups. Other breathing exercising, such as taking seven slow breaths, may also be effective. Even holding a person's breath is sometimes recommended as a cure for the hiccups.

Some more ridiculous cures for hiccups include scaring them out of a person, listening to a specific song on repeat, and drinking water while covering one's ears. These cures have no basis in fact whatsoever and do not affect any of the muscles related to hiccups. They are, however, highly effective at distracting a person with hiccups from the problem at hand, particularly when the cures are difficult to perform.

In general, normal hiccups do not last very long. Typically, they last only a few minutes, but they can last as long as a day without indicating a major problem. Waiting can be irritating, particularly because hiccups can be very loud, but truly the only remedy for normal hiccups is to wait for them to go away. When hiccups last for longer than two days, they can be considered serious.

For serious hiccups that last for days, a medication called thorazine can be used to stop the hiccups. While thorazine is usually used first, other medications may be tried if thorazine is not found effective. Surgery may be necessary if no medication is found effective, but this is unusual. As hiccups can be caused by an underlying condition, the best remedy for hiccups that won't go away is to get rid of the underlying condition.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By julies — On Jan 10, 2012

It seems like hiccups come at the most inconvenient times. Not only are they annoying, but can also be embarrassing. I have always wondered what causes hiccups as they usually come on without any warning.

I have tried holding my breath, but that never works for me. After a few seconds, I start hiccuping no matter how long I have held my breath.

What works for me most of the time is tipping my head back as I drink a glass of water. The trick is to not swallow the water, but take as many sips as you can before swallowing. If it doesn't work the first time, keep doing it until the whole glass of water is gone.

This does not work for me 100% of the time, but has worked most of the time and is better than anything else I have ever tried.

By golf07 — On Jan 09, 2012

@LisaLou - It is actually quite common for babies to get the hiccups. With two of my kids, I could feel them hiccuping before they were even born!

In most cases the hiccups bother the parents more than the baby, but it can be hard to listen to them hiccup for a very long period of time.

When my babies got the hiccups, I had the best results with feeding them. Something about the sucking action helped the hiccups go away pretty quickly.

If your baby has hiccups for a real long time or gets them several times a week, I would mention it to your doctor. Sometimes babies have a reflux problem that might need to be treated.

By Mae82 — On Jan 08, 2012

@Sara007 - One of the best hiccup cures for infants is to pick them up and pat them gently on the back, just like you would if they needed to burp. Babies often swallow a lot of air when feeding so you are trying to encourage that air to move out of the babies system.

Another thing you could try is to take some anise seeds and steep them in a cup of boiling water. Once the liquid has cooled enough for the baby give your daughter a few teaspoons of it. The mixture should help to stop the hiccups right away.

By LisaLou — On Jan 08, 2012

My baby seems to get the hiccups a lot. I know how annoying they are when I have them, and wonder if there is something I can do for her when she gets the hiccups.

I have tried burping her and patting her back, and they eventually go away. I really don't know if this helps or not, or if the hiccups just go away on their own. Either way, she seems to be content when I do this.

Are there any newborn hiccups remedies that anyone has used with good results? When I get the hiccups, I usually hold my breath, but you can't do this with a baby.

By Sara007 — On Jan 07, 2012

Does anyone have a newborn baby hiccups remedy that they could share?

My daughter has been hiccuping something fierce and I want to get rid of the hiccups that are plaguing her. I know it must be hard for her to get comfortable when she can't stop hiccuping.

I've already tried giving her some sugar water in a bottle and that didn't work. I guess she really hated the taste because she spit it up. I am hoping that I can find something a bit more baby friendly. These hiccups have been an ongoing problem and I really want my daughter to be able to get a good sleep again.

By lonelygod — On Jan 07, 2012

There is nothing worse than trying to figure out how to stop hiccups when you are at the point where your ribcage is actually starting to get sore from the motion. What my mother had me do the last time I couldn't stop hiccuping is to take a tablespoon of maple syrup and add it to some really warm water, as hot as I could stand. I suppose this is a variant of drinking sugar water.

I still think this is one of the best hiccup cures because I found that the water was delicious and soothing. It only took me a small glass of the liquid before I was able to relax again.

By orangey03 — On Jan 06, 2012

@Oceana – That sounds like it actually might work! I have always been told to hold my breath as long as I could to cure my hiccups, but I wind up hiccuping during the treatment. Apparently, just holding your breath isn't enough.

I think that peanut butter would be sticky enough to hold things together that want to jump up and down during hiccups. It is a lot like glue, only tastier.

Even if it turns out to be just a mental thing, it would be worth a try. Has anyone else ever attempted the peanut butter cure? Does it work if you eat it on bread or crackers, or does it have to be taken straight?

By OeKc05 — On Jan 06, 2012

If getting someone to scare you doesn't cure your hiccups, then it's probably because you were expecting it. If a friend takes it upon themselves to cure you without you asking, it will be more likely to work. This has been my experience.

My roommate is so good at scaring me, and she provides this service to me every time I get the hiccups. She hears me from the other room and sneaks around the corner to spook me.

At other times, she is more elaborate with her plan. She will arrange for things to fall down from the top of the doorway as I leave the room or pop a balloon behind my back.

By Oceana — On Jan 05, 2012

I got a horrible case of the hiccups last month, and I knew that if anyone in my family knew any natural remedies for hiccups, it would be my grandmother. She seemed to have an at-home cure for just about everything, so I called her up.

She told me that I should eat a spoonful of peanut butter. She said I should put it in my mouth and slowly work it down my throat. The gooey, slow motion should retard my hiccup muscles, or so she said.

It really did work. Now, whenever I get uncontrollably strong hiccups, I reach for the peanut butter. I get them often, so I keep a jar of peanut butter and a spoon at my desk at work.

By Perdido — On Jan 04, 2012

@fify – That's hilarious! I can't imagine a teacher actually sending students out to try that!

I had never heard of plugging the ears or lying upside down while drinking water as remedies until reading this article. I have always just heard that you should drink water the regular way.

My mother told me to take seven small sips of water very deliberately and slowly. For a mild case of the hiccups, this usually works for me.

However, if I have strong hiccups that are more persistent, nothing seems to help. I have had cases that lasted several hours before, and water did nothing for them.

By serenesurface — On Jan 04, 2012

I think the best remedy for hiccups depends on what's causing it. If there is an underlying disease or irritant, home remedies aren't going to work. You have to avoid the irritant or treat the disease.

I get hiccups due to my eating habits. Alcohol, greasy and spicy food always causes a bout of hiccups that lasts for hours. It's really annoying and the only way it stops is when the alcohol leaves my system or after I take a big dose of antacids.

When I avoid alcohol and foods that bother my stomach, I don't get hiccups at all. So I think anyone who gets hiccups often should try to figure out what's causing it instead of relying on random hiccup remedies.

By burcinc — On Jan 03, 2012

@fify-- I use the sugar method and that always works for me. I do think that there is an explanation for why some of these home remedies work for hiccups though.

As far as I know, hiccups are caused by contraction and irritation in the diaphragm. So it could be possible that drinking water, holding your breath, drinking hot liquids or eating things like sugar or peanut butter help stop the contraction.

Keeping your mind off of the hiccups probably work for this reason as well.

By fify — On Jan 03, 2012

When I was in primary school, whenever a student in my class had hiccups, the teacher would send the student with another peer to the drinking fountain. The student with the hiccups would plug his or her ears and drink water while the other student held the fountain.

I'm over forty years old now and I still use this remedy for hiccups. There might not be a scientific basis for it, but it works. I've tried other home remedies for hiccups lots of times like holding my breath or eating a spoonful of sugar but those don't work.

When I get hiccups, I plug my ears and drink water using a straw and it's gone in a few seconds. I showed my friend this method after he had hiccups for hours and he was amazed. I think this has to be the best remedy for hiccups.

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